The fourth installment in the Horse Camp movie franchise, Horse Camp: A Treasure Tail, is available for streaming now on Prime Video. The family-friendly films are set at a fictionalized version of Black River Farm and Ranch, an actual camp in Michigan. The stories follow the adventures and rivalries of the young girls at the camp. When we catch up with the beloved characters in the fourth film, the camp is poised to be sold to a corporation and the girls must find a way to save it.
“The Horse Camp films focus on a message,” says Kristen Ryda, who plays Stacy, a character that began as the camp’s resident mean girl but evolved into an empathetic young woman over the course of the films. “Whether it’s friendship, mentorship, or teamwork, they relay a message everyone can relate to. They also appeal to the young, or young at heart, horse lover.”
“[The movies] are very lighthearted and fun films with a good message behind them,” agrees Courtnè Alyssa, who plays Rebecca, a character who started out shy, but who also evolves. “In the fourth movie she returns as a junior counselor and faces new challenges that come from being an authority figure for the first time,” Alyssa explains. “She overcomes self-doubt and is able to help another young camper who is going through similar things she went through when she was younger.” Alyssa was nominated for Best Young Actress in a Feature Film at the 42nd Young Artist Academy Awards in 2021 for the role of Rebecca in Horse Camp: A Love Tail.
Rachel Sowers has played Lisa Gold in all four films, and admits her riding experience coming into the role was little to none, although she did attend a day camp as a child. “I think everyone wants to go to summer camp. I loved it as a kid. The horses, the adventure, the story are all perfect for younger girls,” she says, also adding that the films offer many lessons for viewers such as “responsibility, restraint, how to love and be caring, so many lessons.”
It’s this wholesome content that has made the films popular with parents and children alike. And it’s what draws these actors to their respective roles, as does the fact that horses offer lessons in life to people, young and old. “Horses are so intuitive and are really able to tell what we are feeling. And since they can’t talk, they communicate to us in different ways, many of them subtle,” says Alyssa. “Horses offer people an excellent opportunity to learn how to listen and watch for those cues – which can also enhance a child’s ability to attune to other people, creating more understanding and empathy in everyday life.”
Ryda also appreciates how the films demonstrate that we can learn from horses too. “Horses teach us how to trust, overcome fear, work hard and put our horse’s needs before our own,” she says.
While Sowers had little experience before being cast, Alyssa had even less. “Although I’ve always loved horses, I didn’t have the opportunity to be around them very much growing up,” she explains. “So, filming these movies was like a childhood dream come true for me because it really was like being at a real horse camp! I so enjoyed learning to ride and also how to tack and groom a horse.”
The most experienced of the group is Ryda, who began riding at Black River Farm and Ranch as a camper and worked there until 2013. In fact, it was while working at Black River Farms that producer Joel Reisig discovered her when he and his crew came to film background footage for the first movie. And her passion for horses is definitely something she plans on leaning into as her career grows. “Aside from my summers at Black River Farm and Ranch, I have taken lessons throughout the years,” says Ryda. “I’ve never owned a horse of my own, but I plan on it in the future. A dream of mine would be to own a farm where any horse who needs a home or a place to retire can find peace and solitude.”
That sounds like the kind of dream most young horse girls would like to see come true.
All four movies – Horse Camp, Horse Dancer, Horse Camp: A Love Tail, and Horse Camp: A Treasure Tail – are available for streaming on Prime Video or for rent/purchase on YouTube, Apple TV or Google Play.
Watch the Horse Camp: A Treasure Tail trailer here: